With the NCAA football season underway for those conferences that decided to pursue it, the NCAA is expected to announce the start date for the 2020-21 basketball season in the coming days. With last season cut short and the conference and NCAA tournaments skipped altogether, the Atlantic Coast Conference has floated an idea about the upcoming season in what appears to be an effort to make up for those games and the lost revenue.
According to various reports, the ACC men’s basketball coaches are proposing an expanded 2021 NCAA tournament that would include every Division I team. That’s not a misprint. Every. Single. Team. Excluding those on probation and for various other reasons, that’s 346 teams. Here’s a look at the proposal.
Cancellation of the 2020 NCAA tournament
In March, when the U.S. was just getting a solid understanding of the ever-growing pandemic, the various sports leagues and conferences were faced with making tough decisions. When the NCAA cancelled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, it sent shock waves throughout the sports world.
It was the first time in the NCAA tournament’s 81-year history the event had been cancelled. Unfortunately, it was just the first domino of many to fall in intercollegiate athletics.
The NCAA then proceeded to cancel all remaining winter and spring championships, including college baseball, women’s college softball, and track and field.
NCAA planning on tournament resuming as normal in 2020-21 season
For months the NCAA has maintained its desire to return to its regular schedule from years past and hold a 64-team NCAA tournament in the traditional March-April timeline. NCAA president Mark Emmert has somewhat hedged his bets as recently as August suggesting that 64 teams might be a tough ask.
“Starting with 64 teams is tough. Thirty-two, OK, maybe that’s a manageable number. Sixteen, certainly manageable. But you’ve got to figure out those logistics. There’s doubtlessly ways to make that work,” Emmert said in an interview on the NCAA’s website last month.
“It’s obviously expensive to do that. But we’re not going to hold a championship in a way that puts student-athletes at risk. If we need to do a bubble model and that’s the only way we can do it, then we’ll figure that out.”
The organization is expected to announce a decision on the format for winter sports, including men’s and women’s basketball and the NCAA tournaments, on Sept. 16.
ACC proposes tournament includes all Division 1 schools
With the NCAA’s decision pending, the ACC coaches voted on their proposed plan on Wednesday, according to Stadium, and decided now was the time to make their plan known publicly. It’s ambitious to say the least.
The plan, which is being spearheaded by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, would be an all-inclusive NCAA tournament where all 346 Division 1 teams eligible for the tournament would participate. There are 357 teams, but Oklahoma State is banned for infractions related to the FBI investigation, three teams are ineligible for academic reasons, and seven are “reclassifiers.”
Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes tweeted about the proposed plan. “I am so proud to stand UNITED with every coach in the ACC in the belief that every Division I college basketball program should be allowed to participate in the NCAA Tournament this year!”
If this expansive tournament were to happen, it would be an opportunity for CBS and Turner Sports to recoup some of their money lost with the cancellation of last year’s tournament. It would also provide at least a month’s worth of tournament action. Now fans would have to call in sick for multiple weekends to keep up with the non-stop basketball action.
There’s no denying 2020 has been an awful year, but 2021 could make up for it, and an all-inclusive NCAA tournament would be a great place to start.